Sound — 9
The album was recorded in Nashville, which can really be felt on the so-influenced tracks "If I Should Die Tonight" and "On Your Side." "Spring Chicken" and "Porcupine Or Pineapple" capture the zaniness of "Give Blood" with the added twist of protesting the contemporary world political situation. The band even ventures into the acoustic realm with the tender "Isabel." There is still the diversity of "Give Blood" but with a little more focus. It's the finest indie-country-punk the world has to offer.
Lyrics — 10
The lyrics are very tongue-in-cheek. "Mobile Communication" laments the pitfalls of cell phones and "Porcupine Or Pineapple" makes the war in Iraq look silly. There are also a lot of literary allusions on the album. They reference "The Master And Margarita" by Mikhail Bulgakov ("Margarita"), The Book Of Job ("Cease And Desist"), and"The Decameron" by Giovanni Boccacio and "Isabella, Or, The Pot Of Basil" by John Keats ("Isabel"). The lyrics throughout are also able to capture the full emotional spectrum, from glee in " Beatific Vision" to chaos in "Cease And Desist", to heart-wrenching melancholy in "No Return."
Overall Impression — 9
This album has a more "mature" sound than the first album without compromising what made the first so delightful. While it still hovers around 30 minutes long, there aren't any seven second songs. As a matter of fact, the closer, "No Return," is the first Brakes song to pass the four-minute mark. As a whole, the album seems to have more focus. "No Return" is also probably the most impressive song song, because it shows depth of emotion, as well as Brakes' ability to make a departure from their usual fare and still sound like Brakes. I like how the songs feel more substantial, musically and thematically, than those on "Give Blood." I do wish there were a a few more tracks, because it's a wonderful album and it is unfortunate to see it gone so quickly. I would certainly buy it again for myself if something were to happen to it. It is exciting, thoughtful, and well-rounded.